Month: September 2014

Allen West as Secret Service Director would be an absolute disaster

FOX News blowhard Allen West, a far-right Republican lunatic from Florida who was voted out of Congress two years ago after repeatedly embarrassing himself and his constituents, has at least one person, Dan Emmett, at the Washington Post who wants him to be the next U.S. Secret Service Director should current Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resign:

(Julia) Pierson should be replaced and the next director should come from outside the Secret Service, with the deputy director remaining an agent. In this role, a true leader, not a bureaucrat, is needed. Someone like Florida congressman and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen West would be perfect for the role. West has successfully demonstrated that he possesses the leadership skills of a combat officer as well as managerial and diplomatic skills of a congressman, exactly the traits needed in the next director. Highly competent and beholden to no one in the Secret Service, he would be a superb director.

There are a boatload of reasons what that is an absolutely horrid idea.

You see, West would not be interested in protecting the President of the United States, the First Family, and other top federal officials and family members of top federal officials that the Secret Service is legally responsible for protecting, nor would he be interested in cracking down on counterfeiting of U.S. currency and other financial crimes that the Secret Service is supposed to be cracking down on. West, in the extremely unlikely event that President Obama were to appoint him Secret Service Director in the event that current Secret Service director Julia Pierson were to resign, would be more interested in using the office of Secret Service Director as a platform for political grandstanding and spewing far-right lunacy about President Obama, Democrats, progressives, and other political enemies of West.

Allen West would be a far bigger disaster than the current Secret Service leadership.

Advertisements

John Oliver: The Left’s New Hero

John Oliver may not be a U.S. Citizen, but he’s already earned a large following on the American left. As the host of the HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight (which also has a YouTube page with nearly 800,000 subscribers), Oliver has, among other things, railed against rampant corruption at FIFA (the international soccer federation), has exposed the Miss America pageant for fluffing their claim about how much money in scholarships they provide, and has taken on the wealthiest people in America and their political influence, while, at the same time, injecting quite a bit of humor into his show.

Right before the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament began, Oliver did this piece on the protests against the World Cup in the host country of Brazil and the rampant corruption within soccer’s international governing body:

Several days after the 2014 Miss America pageant, Oliver did this piece on the rampant sexism in beauty pageants and Miss America’s false claim that they provide more money in scholarships to women than anyone else:

Additionally, Oliver has done pieces on the payday loan industry, the massive student debt problem in this country, and the massive wealth gap in this country:

While Last Week Tonight is a comedy show and not a news program, I’ve found Last Week Tonight to be far more informative than actual news programs in this country, with more actual investigative journalism than on any actual news program in this country. Additionally, Last Week Tonight is considerably funnier than any news program as well.

John Oliver has become the Fighting Bob La Follette of comedy, and that’s why he’s the American left’s new hero.

Instead of caving to the Tea Party, Democrats should be more like them

You might be reading that headline and thinking, “that’s a self-contradictory headline!”

Actually, it’s not a self-contradictory headline at all.

What I mean is that, instead of supporting parts of the Tea Party’s agenda like most establishment, moderate, corporate, centrist, and conservative Democrats do, Democrats should emulate the Tea Party’s no-compromise attitude toward politics while promoting a vastly different political agenda.

The Democratic Party should stand for restoring the American middle class (such as raising the minimum wage, granting workers more rights, repealing free-trade agreements, etc.), improving the quality of education (such as making college more affordable, eliminating charter schools and school voucher programs, eliminating standardized testing and anything tied to it, etc.), improving our country’s health care system (such as implementing a single-payer or public option health care system, etc.), isolationist foreign policy (such as opposing war unless the U.S. is directly attacked, not getting the U.S. involved in foreign policy except to protect U.S. interests, etc.), ending corporate welfare (such as eliminating tax breaks for business, creating national and state economic development banks, etc.), protecting and expanding the legal rights of the American people (such as making it easier to vote, protecting the reproductive rights of women, granting same-sex couples the right to marry, prohibiting warrantless spying on the American people, legalizing recreational marijuana, etc.), and making government less corrupt and more transparent (such as taking redistricting out of the hands of state legislators, making campaign finance laws more strict, etc.).

While there are many Democrats who stand for most of those ideals, there are also many Democrats who stand for only a few of those ideals. However, even the most progressive Democrats who run for public office will talk about bipartisanship and compromise at every opportunity. I find that to be downright annoying and, more importantly, out of touch with political reality. It is practically impossible to compromise with the Republican Party, which has been taken over by the far-right Tea Party, these days, except for maybe one or two issues. Instead of trying to compromise with a group of people that one can’t compromise with, Democrats should emulate the Tea Party’s no-compromise attitude to politics while pushing to implement a progressive, pro-middle class, pro-woman, pro-worker, pro-democracy, and pro-America agenda that will make America a far better place to live.

Indiana Toll Road, privatized by Republicans, files for bankruptcy

The latest example of how privatization schemes have failed the American people comes from Indiana. Specifically, the Indiana Toll Road, which was privatized by Republicans several years ago, has officially filed for bankruptcy:

The company that operates the Indiana Toll Road filed for bankruptcy on Sunday, though Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said in a statement Monday drivers of the route through northern Indiana can expect “business as usual.”

Debt-ridden ITR Commission Co., a spawn of the Spanish-Australian company Cintra-Macquarie, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago in a prepackaged plan to restructure its approximate $6 billion debt.

The company in 2006 paid $3.8 billion for a 75-year lease of the road that runs between the Illinois and Ohio state lines, but the toll revenue failed to meet company expectations.

This is the main reason why I’m opposed to toll roads, especially ones that are leased to a private entity by the state in which they’re located. If the toll road doesn’t get enough traffic, then the company that owns the lease can’t pay the bills, and motorists and taxpayers get the shaft. We need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, not let it go bankrupt.

Rush Limbaugh publicly supports rape

Right-wing talk radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh has a long track record of showing complete disrespect for women on his nationally-syndicated radio program.

This time, however, Limbaugh said something so vile on his radio program, it’s even worse than his blatantly sexist tirade in which he called Sandra Fluke, now a Democratic candidate for a seat in the California State Senate, a “slut”. Limbaugh publicly supported sexual assault by saying that “no means yes if you know how to spot it”:

“How many of you guys in your own experience with women have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it?” he asked on “The Rush Limbaugh Show” Monday. “It used to be used as a cliché.”

[…]

Limbaugh then read off Ohio State University’s definition of consent, which outlines how two people should behave once they have decided to engage in a sexual relationship. It states that you and your partner must agree to engage in the activity every step of the way, including agreeing on “why” you are doing so. But that just sucks all the fun out of it, Limbaugh said.

Cumulus Media, which Limbaugh signed a contract with, and Premiere Networks, which syndicates The Rush Limbaugh Show, should fire Limbaugh and cancel the program immediately. When Limbaugh said “no means yes” and then claimed that getting consent from someone to have sex “sucks all the fun” out of having sex, he publicly supported sexual assault. It’s highly unacceptable for anyone, especially someone who hosts a talk radio program syndicated across the entire country, to publicly support a horrific criminal act.

When someone says “NO”, he or she means “NO”. There is nothing fun whatsoever about raping someone.

ENDORSEMENT: YES for Scottish independence

I’m an American who lives in a small town in the east central part of the U.S. state of Illinois, so I have no vested interest whatsoever in the politics of the United Kingdom, but I’ve been inspired by the social media-driven Yes campaign for Scottish independence, and my endorsement of Scottish independence is more of a way of expressing my admiration of Scottish independence supporters than anything else.

In order to circumvent the British press, the Yes campaign in Scotland has developed an extensive social media network, and I’ve seen it in action. Recently, rock musician Sir Bob Geldof, who was born in the Republic of Ireland (which fought a war against the UK for independence and won), gave a speech opposing Scottish independence from London, which is the single worst place one could pick to give a speech opposing Scottish independence. Because of the Twitter presence of Scottish independence supporters, several topics related to Geldof’s speech, such as “Bob Geldof” and “Trafalgar Square”, are trending on Twitter as I type this blog post. The pro-Scottish independence campaign’s network of supporters on social media reminds me a lot of the social media presence that progressive activists in the U.S. state of Wisconsin built up during the 2011 protests against the busting of labor unions there.

Besides, what does Scotland get with its 307-year-old union with England and Wales? Nothing but a ton of bloviating Westminster politicians and the British press fawning over the Duchess of Cambridge at every opportunity. Worst of all, the No campaign against Scottish independence has resorted to the kind of right-wing fearmongering that is normally seen from Republican politicians here in the United States.

I encourage Scottish voters to vote Yes on the Scottish independence referendum on Thursday.

President Obama just got this country into another Vietnam

In an official address to the nation, President Barack Obama announced that U.S. forces will carry out air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Syria.

While President Obama promised that there will be no ground troops in Iraq or Syria, I seriously doubt that the president would hold to that promise for long. In fact, I think that the president just got this country into yet another Vietnam.

While I support humanitarian aid to those fleeing ISIS’s wrath and counterterrorism efforts to prevent ISIS from pulling off a terrorist attack on U.S. soil (so as long as said counterterrorism efforts don’t violate the U.S. Constitution), any kind of war with ISIS, whether it be an air war, a ground war, or a combination of both, is, more than likely, going to bog this country down in another long, drawn-out war, similar to the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I firmly believe that ISIS is an extremely dangerous organization that intends, through violence, to destroy everything they consider a enemy, including the United States of America, in fact, they are the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist organization that I’ve ever seen in my life. However, the U.S. becoming involved in a war with ISIS would, more than likely, be a big mistake.

U.S. Supreme Court lists marriage equality cases for consideration at its next conference

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), which has five Republican-appointed judges and four Democratic-appointed judges, has formally listed seven marriage equality cases with cert petitions pending from five different states (three from Virginia and one each from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin) for consideration at its upcoming conference on September 29, the first such conference after SCOTUS’s summer recess began:

The U.S. Supreme Court has formally listed all marriage cases with cert petitions pending — Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana — for consideration on September 29, at its very first conference after coming back from summer recess.

Kathleen Perrin, the legal eagle behind Equality Case Files, adds: “While this is an encouraging move, if the Court follows the pattern it followed last term, no case will be granted cert without being relisted at least once… For comparison, the (California) Prop 8 case was distributed to four conferences and (United States v.) Windsor to three before the Court granted cert in those cases.”

Indeed, the AP reports that the justices could put off deciding to take up a case until as late as January and still be able to hear arguments and issue a decision by the end of June.

The marriage equality cases that have been formally listed by SCOTUS are as follows: Herbert v. Kitchen (Utah), Smith v. Bishop (Oklahoma), Rainey v. Bostic (Virginia), Schaefer v. Bostic (Virginia), McQuigg v. Bostic (Virginia), Bogan v. Baskin (Indiana), and Walker v. Wolf (Wisconsin). SCOTUS could decide to take up the marriage equality cases at its next convention or at a later date.

I hope that the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling in favor of marriage equality for the entire country because same-sex couples deserve the same right to marry that heterosexual couples currently enjoy. Given that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) for violating the U.S. Constitution last year with Republican-appointed justice Anthony Kennedy joining Democratic-appointed justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer, those same five justices forming a majority opinion in favor of marriage equality is certainly a possible outcome.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should resign immediately over Ray Rice incident

The Associated Press is reporting that an unnamed NFL executive had received a copy of the security camera video tape showing former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Ray Rice physically assaulting the woman who was then his fiancé and is now his wife in an elevator all the way back in April, many months before Rice was initially suspended for two games and then indefinitely by the NFL after the video tape was published by TMZ.

This isn’t the first time that Goodell and other NFL executives bungled their response to the Ray Rice incident. Goodell was initially suspended for only two games despite the NFL commissioner’s office having suspended players for longer periods of time in the past for things that, in my opinion, are lesser offenses than domestic violence. There should have been a proper investigation by the commissioner’s office into Ray Rice beating up a woman in an elevator, but there wasn’t one. Furthermore, Goodell has not yet issued a formal apology over his bungling of the NFL’s response of Ray Rice incident.

The way that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other NFL executives have handled this situation is, in my opinion, absolutely disgusting, and there is no excuse for Goodell and other NFL executives to effectively protect a domestic abuser for several months. Commissioner Goodell should resign immediately, and here’s a petition that you can sign in order to tell Goodell that you want him to resign.

U.S. Senate votes 79-18 for proposed constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics

The U.S. Senate has voted to advance a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would effectively repeal the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision and explicitly allow Congress and state legislatures to prohibit corporations, labor unions, and other types of organizations from spending money to directly or indirectly influence the outcome of elections, allows Congress and state legislatures to legally distinguish between corporations and actual people, and enact “reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections”.

The vote was 79 for the amendment and 18 against the amendment. The 18 Senators, all of which are Republicans, who voted against the amendment are, in alphabetical order by last name, John Barasso of Wyoming, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Roberts of Kansas, James Risch of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Thune of South Dakota, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. The 3 Senators who did not vote on the amendment are Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski. At least 67 total votes were required to advance the proposed amendment, due to the U.S. Constitution requiring any constitutional amendment proposed by Congress to be approved by 2/3 majorities of both houses of Congress in order for it to be referred to either state legislatures or state ratifying conventions.

Here’s the text of the proposed amendment:

Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

While the Republican-controlled U.S. House, more than likely, won’t even bring this proposed amendment to a vote there, this is a big victory for people who, like me, would love nothing more than to see the corrupting influence of big money in our country’s political system gone.